Ends Key Component of Defense

Defensive line play will be among the key components of the pressure plans. How much will the Hogs blitz under new defensive coordinator Willy Robinson?

Arkansas will blitz this season. Arkansas defensive coordinator Willy Robinson said he "cut his teeth" as both a college player, college coach and in the pro ranks as a coach with the blitz.

"I think you can count on us blitzing, but we will pick and choose," Robinson said. "I learened it as a player and a coach. I think you will see us change each game. I'd think you would want to be 60 percent non-pressure. But you see what you have to do based on the personnel of the other team.

"I'd think you would like to be 60-40 as far as that balance. I hope we can put some pressure on the other team without blitzing too much. If you can do that, then your blitzes become real effective."

Head coach Bobby Petrino said defensive end play would be a big key in the pass rush without adding too much blitz.

"You blitz for different reasons," he said. "You might be blitzing to stop the run. You might want to change the quarterbacks eyes. Sometimes you want to change the way they use their personnel, maybe keep a back or a tight end in to block. And, you also blitz to hit the quarterback. If you can get that pressure with a four-man rush, then you are going to be much better when you do blitz.

"I think we are going to be able to bring pressure on the edge with this defensive ends. I think we have some ability there. We've got good talent at end and some depth."

Defensive end coach Kirk Botkin likes what he has in his meeting room.

"We do have a little bit of depth right there now," he said. "We are healthy and solid there. We've got some competition and ability, I think."

The top four defensive ends -- Jake Bequette, Adrian Davis, Antwain Robinson and Damario Ambrose -- all should play.

"We haven't gotten into discussions about rotations, and how often we'll change them, but my philosophy is that you keep them fresh and watch for effort and then change them," Botkin said. "I do want our best two fresh for the last three minutes of each half, so you'd rotate to get to that point."

The competition on the field has been interesting both in the spring and through one day of practice.

"I think competition is the most important thing you can have," Botkin said. "Right now, we have a meeting room that has a circle of chairs and then two by themselves in the middle. Our two starters are sitting in the middle in those two chairs. Those are important chairs."

Robinson said he's striving to be in one of those chairs.

"You look at the depth chart each day to see if you are in one of those two chairs," Robinson said. "That's a big deal."

Botkin said, "We evaluate each night. The two guys in those chairs may change on a daily basis when we check for effort and the way assignments are carried out. I think we've got a healthy situation as far as competition in our (meeting) room."


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